Ben Franklin Half Dollar

Jay Turner takes a close look at the Franklin Half Dollar's budding resurgence in the numismatic world.

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The Ben Franklin Half Dollar is a modern coin on the move. While there are still collectors and dealers who can remember spending these coins, they are finally starting to get the respect and admiration as a true numismatic collectible and, in some cases, numismatic rarities.

The Ben Franklin Half Dollar was introduced in 1948 and its life was cut short by the Kennedy assassination in 1963 and the subsequent introduction of the Kennedy Half Dollar. In 1964, after the price of silver increased, many Franklin Half Dollars and other silver coins traded for levels of silver melt value. Tons were actually melted for their silver content. Even today, circulated Franklins trade close to melt.

Within the last several years, Franklin Half Dollars have been gaining in popularity among collectors and the price levels have seen dramatic jumps for condition census coins. The Full Bell Line designation is a designation that NGC applies when both the top and bottom bell lines are struck fully and without interruption. Less stringent guidelines are used by other services. The designation has become a must for many collectors of the series. This strike designation has been one of the greatest driving factors with regard to record prices in the Franklin Series.

The 1953-S Franklin is considered the key for the Franklin Half Dollar Full Bell Line Designation since most coins of that date and mint exhibit a flat strike with very poor bell line definition. NGC has graded only three 1953-S Full Bell Lines to date and all are MS65. The price for a MS65 Full Bell Line 1953-S Franklin has varied from $13,000 to $32,000.

The 1953-S is considered scarce and almost an impossibility among Franklin Half Dollars. In recent years dramatic prices have been seen on several other dates as well. This is especially true of Franklins from the 1960s. A 1961 in MS66 FBL brings over $6,000. A 1961-D MS66 FBL, of which NGC has graded only two, has seen prices over $5,000. A 1962 MS65 FBL, can sell for over $2,000. A 1962-D MS66 FBL can currently sell for over $4,000 and a 1963 MS65 FBL can sell for over $1,000.

Until recently, there was a minimal difference in price among these coins. It wasn't until certification and the registries that these coins were sought for inexpensive short sets. However, as the number of interested collectors grows, so do the prices on Franklin Half Dollars. While some of these coins seem steep in price, they are considered to be in their infancy and on the way to becoming a classical coin. As collector demand increases, so will the price for high-grade, full bell line examples. The Franklin Half Dollar is definitely a coin that is going places.

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